Last chance to get a better deal for Northern Ireland's fishermen, says visiting Scots MEP –

Last chance to get a better deal for Northern Ireland’s fishermen, says visiting Scots MEP Published:  27 April, 2012

“This is our last chance to get a better deal for the Northern Ireland and UK fleet”. That is the opinion that will be expressed by Struan Stevenson MEP, Senior Vice President of the European Parliament’s Fisheries Committee, during a visit to the Province tomorrow (Friday 27 April).

On Friday morning Mr Stevenson will address a large audience of fishermen at a workshop on the reform of the EU Common Fisheries Policy (CFP) at the Northern Ireland Assembly Buildings at Stormont in Belfast. Speaking ahead of the meeting, the Scottish Conservative Euro MP said:

“The increased value of landings in Northern Ireland’s fisheries sector last year, up from £22 million in 2010 to £27.5 million in 2011, came as a welcome relief for fishermen in the Province. The sector has battled to survive for many years in the face of reduced market prices and significantly increased costs, in particular for fuel. Since 1993 there have been 124 vessels decommissioned in Northern Ireland, 48 of these in the past decade. In fact, in the year 2000, there was a whitefish fleet in the Province numbering more than 40 trawlers. Today there is not a single whitefish trawler left. Then last ones went at the beginning of this year due to the Draconian quota restrictions and effort controls.

“So against this background I think once again Northern Ireland’s fishermen have proved their resilience in the face of adversity. I hope now that we can maintain progress and growth in the sector by getting a sensible reform of the CFP in place that wrests control away from the Brussels bureaucrats and hands it back to the Member States and the fishermen and stakeholders themselves. The current reform has provided us with a golden opportunity to break the catastrophic cycle of micro-management from Brussels which has bedevilled our fisheries sector for decades. You don’t need to look much further than the disastrous cod recovery plan in the Irish Sea to see what I mean.

“We need to get the day-to-day management of fisheries devolved to the Member States, who can then devolve it to Regional Government in the case of Stormont, and from there to the Producer Organisations (POs), so that the fishermen and other stakeholders are directly involved.”